When the news broke of Kanye’s devotion and conversion to Jesus Christ, all sorts of thoughts flooded the internet. Everyone wanted to give their opinions…their ideas of how much of a fake he was, or of how genuine his conversion experience was.
Blogs quoting him in saying “I am a god” and other such things. Pointing out his failures, flaws, open (and publicized) sins. The tone I was seeing was “how could this man truly turn and be following Jesus now???”
The reality? He was a god. He was his own god. Much like we were our own standard of good or morality before we surrendered to the King of Kings. Kanye ran; he ran far…he ran hard. When Kanye does anything he does it to the fullest. We saw that, we are seeing that.
His story reminded me of an old story that most people are familiar with – even those who’ve never been in a church. The Prodigal Son. You know that story. A son demands his inheritance early. His father obliges. He runs of and squanders the riches and glory on women, food, perverse things, and himself. It took this man to the deepest pits…literally. He found himself in a pig pen, debating eating the pig’s sloth just so he could eat that day.
What got the younger son’s attention was his physical need. The jarring reality that he actually didn’t have it all together, and that his Father had the ability to fix this situation. He realizes his place as a son who squandered his Father’s gifts to him. He confesses and begins writing a speech about how unworthy he is to even be called his son anymore…and gets up, and starts walking the long road home.
A road filled with (I am sure) a lot of anxiety, a lot of sorrow, a lot of nervousness. Every step he walked closer to his Father’s house he would repeat the planned speech he had prepared for his dad.
The way this story is recorded in Luke, we almost get a sense that the younger son is surprised by the Father. “While he was a long way off…the father saw him and had compassion on him…running toward him embraced him, and kissed him…”
Surprised by the Father’s love. The Father’s embrace. The Father’s excitement. You can almost hear the son mid-confession rehearsal get spooked by the enveloping arms of the Father. WOAH! Hey Dad…listen…. “I have sinned against heaven before you…..”
The Father seems to interrupt him mid-way through his confession. Or, at least, didn’t allow the younger son to dwell on what he had done wrong…he was back, and the Father knew that was a massive enough confession for him to command the fattened calf to be killed and a party to be thrown.
His son who was dead is now back!
Now, many people leave this story where we have left it. How lovely and beautiful and thrilling and happy is this story?! The son who was a far way off, who wasted his Father’s things is back! And his Father welcomes him back with open arms and kisses….wholesome Bible story…awww! (smiles)
But there is an important element that many leave out here…which I believe is the actual meat and potatoes behind this narrative. In the field was another son. A son who remained close to the Father by duty and proximity. A son who did the Father’s commands.
This son draws near to the house and sees the party going on. He sees the celebration for this son. This sinful, terrible, wicked, resource squandering son of his Father’s….ugh.
You can almost feel his disapproval as he calls for one of the Father’s hands to explain what is going on. The call for fairness. For justice. For something to be done about this terrible son who ran off.
“I’ve served you for years and years…done the right thing, kept close…and you’ve never even given me as much as a goat to party with my friends…” the older son says.
“Ohhhh my dear son, you’ve been with me this whole time. Everything I have is yours! Can we not be happy that this brother of yours who was dead is now back…he is alive?!”
Here is a massive kicker, as well. The older brother thought he had a say in what the Father could do with His own resources and riches. The Father wanted to lavish His riches on his son…and He had every right to do that. But the older brother felt he had a say in how the Father’s goodness ought to be given out.
My dear friends. Kanye was once far off. By his own admission. He was really really good at sinning. By his own admission. But he found himself in a very deep and dark pit. One of depression and anxiety and even bankruptcy…in every sense of the word. He came to his senses and realized the thing that he had this whole time…the love of the Father.
He began to take that long road back home. Full of self doubt, nervousness, anxiety…but our Father, the Good Father, saw Kanye while he was still a long way off…and welcomed him in.
We, as the Church, are called to join the party. We are not to be the older brother…looking in and telling God what he should have done. This brother of ours, who was once a far way off, and dead…is ALIVE! Rejoice! We have our brother back.
Rather than questioning Kanye and his return..let us join in the celebration of the Father. Realizing that God has lavished on us the same riches and goodness that our younger brother has now entered into! He is home. We are home..!